Anna Canning

About me

Born in Scotland, I worked as a university researcher and freelance translator in several European languages before qualifying as medical herbalist in 2007. Working with varied groups across Scotland’s central belt, sessions combine herbal and ethnobotanical knowledge with practical skills such as bushcraft, foraging, plant ID, citizen science, conservation skills and nature-based creative activities, often delivered within the framework of the John Muir Award.

My particular focus and passion are re-skilling people in the use of plants and green spaces to promote confidence and wellbeing, and to foster self-care and sustainable living, along with a meaningful connection with the natural world.

I also love exploring how ethnobotany can bring to life research in other fields. So for example I have worked in partnership with heritage organisations and university researchers in disciplines ranging from art history and archaeology to gastronomy and food science, developing innovative teaching content on historical and current uses of plants for food and medicine, for body care, as novel crops or as tools for exploring traditional ecological knowledge.

Currently I am working on a longer-term project that grew out of a collaboration with the Orkney International Science Festival, based on Mary Beith’s research on traditional medicines of the Highlands and Islands. Most recently I have been training as a Forest Bathing guide to deepen my own learning and find other ways to share the therapeutic connection with woodland.


Foraging for wild medicinal/food plants
Making simple wild remedies and foods to share
Experimenting with wild materials for arts and crafts (natural pigments, botanical dyeing, eco-printing)
Awakening the senses and exploring mindful, reflective, immersive approaches to spending time in nature

Things I love

  • Walks and blethers with friends (and our daft dog Lola)
  • Good bread, cheese, wine and coffee (and other everyday miracles of human ingenuity)
  • The teachings of plants
  • Scandi (and other) noir in film and books

Magical transformations can occur almost effortlessly by linking nature, creativity and health.
If participants in my sessions go home with a smile on their faces, then I am happy.